Snowy and windy half marathon (728K to go):

 

 

NSP13_WEB_021Well today I was supposed to fly to Copenhagen, but shortly before my flight wind picked up a steady 20 knots and frequent gusts in the 35 knot range, not to mention that the temperature dropped just below zero and bringing snowfall, ranging from light flurries to heavy snow showers. In short, No Flying today.

I was a little moody after that. My girlfriend waiting at the arrival was no fun when being stranded at the departure point without an aircraft. Aside from messing up my Friday meeting schedule and evening plans today, it was also messing up my training plan. Friday was supposed to be gym and long run day, with a short run and bouldering session on Saturday., but as my Friday would now be spend flying I had to be creative.

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Well I dressed up warm and decided on a slow run target in the 12-15K range, I threw a couple of High5 ISO gels a pocket to make sure my stomach stay used to getting gels while running, the great thing about the ISO gels is that while a little larger than the average gel, they contain enough water to be digested without additional water, which is perfect for runs up to around half marathon distance where I usually do not consume water, unless it is very hot.

Weather was every bit as hostile as described, ans snow started to pile up several places, varying from a thin sometimes very icy crusty layer to sections of soft slushy snow varying from ankle depth to halfway to my knee.

Challenging, but also fun running conditions and the choice to strap into the seeyas were easy. with this much wet snow, I would be soaked well up towards my knee anyway for the duration, so might as well go for a shoe that drains fast and gain minimal weight from being wet.

The first kilometre and a half was all down hill, so an easy run, but given the unstable surface and varying traction, ice patches downhill are interesting, from a running point of view and while my feet were being hammered by the uneven surface, it is the perfect place for practising the whole centre of gravity thing ๐Ÿ™‚

Uphill for half a kilometre and then I had the wind in my face for the first time and here it would stay for the next 4K. At kilometre 4 I passed a friend that were making her way home from somewhere. she smiled and called me crazy. I smiled waved and said high and continued to push through a section of deep snow uphill. It felt amazing to get my wind in the back for a few kilometres at the 6K mark and my legs were now warm and my feet were totally soaked, but had found a rhythm with the uneven ground, although they were taking a beating from uneven Ice and largish pebbles invisible under the snow. having my wind in the back made it a perfect moment to grab a gel too, which really were a great energy boost.

At kilometre 7 I pass my friend again and were awarded a big grin and a high five (thanks Eva), which meant another boost of mental energy had a great smooth back-wind section, the downhill were rather icy and I really had to stay sharp on my running style not to loose balance and fall over. It went very smooth and felt great and controllable ๐Ÿ™‚

From kilometre 10 a Steep and 1K long uphill with the wind gusting a heavy snow shower into my face – hard. I shortened my stride a touch, adjusted my forward lean angle a touch, and upped the cadence a tiny bit and focused on my heel pull. The long steep uphill seemed to just roll under my feet, amazing. Another 3K of mixed shorter up and downhill sections followed and did a great job loosening up my legs a little, especially as I had the wind in my back for half of it ๐Ÿ™‚

A 14K I felt no where near ready to stop, thus on the whim, I veered left and did a gorgeous 2,5K uphill section with the wind now blowing and gusting very heavy snow into my face. Now I wore my bad weather running shades (the now discontinued Adidas elevation – I have two pairs and save for the soft lens coating they are a favourite of mine), but the snow was so dense it nearly covered the lenses and I were forced to use the back of my glove to wipe them for every ten steps, but such a great section. From here followed the same section downhill and now with the wind in my back, shades in hand I had a strong and fast downhill section that felt just amazing.

At Kilometre 19 I still felt great and decided that I might as well run the last 2,1 Kย  and make it a half marathon, so a quick a sprint half a kilometre downhill and then finishing strong on the last 1,6K uphill to home.

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I was quite surprised to see that I came in faster than the last half marathon less then a week ago, only around a minute faster, but I felt more relaxed on this one and the conditions were a lot tougher, so definitely a great run ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope to be able to stick to these +20K runs once a week from now on, they are pure meditation for me and they really are able to challenge me on my technique and style. On this particular run my body posture was the big challenge. This due to the challenging running conditions, I needed to really watch my step and that cause a bit to much of a forward tilt from my hip neck, but I think I had it under control most of the time.

The other challenge were my feet, they really took a beating, but the flexibility and ground feedback from the seeyas were the right choice still and they remain my favourite running five fingers. they were soaked for 21,1K and not a single hotspot or blister. On rougher terrain I would still opt for the spyridon, but the seeyas do surprisingly well in a lot of terrain.

Last but not lest the centre of gravity thing got a lot of work here, the often icy ย up and downhill sections, with or without a foot worth of slushy snow cover to disguise it as safe ground, really made running as perfectly as possible under my centre gravity mandatory. ย pushing a touch with your feet on the way up in stead of lifting you feet off the ground and you are hugging the hill. stepping in front of yourself on the way down and you will slide the rest of it on your butt ๐Ÿ™‚

Overall a great workout, now I will hit the sack and get some sleep, boarding ย at 5:15 AMย  tomorrow, but I am going back to yourope where the weather is warm enough to go completely barefoot ๐Ÿ™‚

Travels, a half marathon and a blizzard run (749K to go):

I kind of hope a few of you have noticed that i have been inactive for two weeks ๐Ÿ™‚

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The first week was spend mainly flying and then a long weekend of hiking (in my spyridons) in the wonderful Ilulissat region of Greenland, enjoying another passion of mine – Photography, some dogsledding fun of course and then a week worth of running.
I think what many tend to underestimate is how much hiking and day to day walking can help build up foot strength. My Bikila LS is the most padded shoe I wear and I spend every chance I can barefoot. It has meant a tremendous improvement in barefoot strength and my running have seen real benefits from it.
To me, a valuable lesson learned since January. if you want to run barefoot, then spend as much time as possible being barefoot, whether running or not.
The Hiking was amazing and a good continuation ice, rock, snow and other interesting stuff.
The spyridon with a thin toe sock and a debris gaiter (I use the inov8 one) really makes for a very nice and flexible winter boot so far no issues down to -20C.
A more flexible water resistant model built on the sole from the spyridon would be a welcome addition to the range of five fingers.

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Coming back to Nuuk last week, was great though, first thing was a relaxed 5K run with my girlfriend. her first in the steep terrain around Nuuk, but she managed a very nice run in spite of it. Personally it was just a nice relaxing 5K in my seeyas, to the point where little new to tell is available. I feel very settled in my running again, plenty of minor stuff to work on, but overall I feel relax and fluid when running.
Nuuk has fallen back to winter, so plenty of snow and a chilly temperature to it. I really like to run during winter and to feel snow between my toes when running, combined with the tactile sensation of plenty of tiny pebbles strewn everywhere and the sometimes rough ice underneath a thin crusty snow, is just soo nice.
Friday I had planned for a relaxed 6K home from work, but as I took off from work and started running, my feet felt strong and I just flew home in a way too brisk pace. I was great to be able to maintain that fast a pace with steep uphill sections in the run.
So a very positive run overall, my only concern about it was the long run planned for Saturday.

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Saturday, begun early, a trip to the gym for a leg, core and stability workout session, from there I went straight to the climbing gym and enjoyed a few hours of focus on precision hand and footwork. It is a very odd sensation to strap my climbing shoes on these days though and I actually did a good part of my warm up climbs in my KSO.
After the gym I did a light lunch and then started dressing up. blue skies and no wind, perfect for what I estimated to be a very slow 15K when setting out, because my legs were worn from the fast run and the days activities, but as I progressed through the first 5K my legs came back. pace cadence and style seemed good, at 10K everything looked really well an I decided to do the long route home and go for a 21,1K attempt. seemed a perfect way to test my feet, my style and my head above all. at 17K I started to have a bit of a crisis, my calves were beginning to feel exhausted on the downhill runs, but a hard focus on technique and upping the pace downhill solved it.
from 18,5K and home I upped the pace significantly and felt very good al the way home.
We are still far from my old half marathon race pace, but it does not matter much either at this stage. The important part is that I now have the necessary focus to keep my running style relatively tight on this distance and come out with nothing but sore calves from it.

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W003Today I decided that running home from work would make for a nice soft run to start the week, I was wrong though – Mother Nature had decided to play me and throw a fierce 45 knot blizzard, with gusts on the lively side of 60 knots.
The run home went OK, parts of the run were a little exposed and i had to fight to stay on my feet on the ice covered roads. The most dangerous seemed to be the cars though, I met at least two cars where the drivers were struggling to stay on the road and where I was glad to be running and not in their car.
The seeyas were probably not the optimal choice of footwear for the run, the spyridons would have been preferred here, but that the seeya keep impressing me, it is a very versatile shoe.

A long update, but I wanted to fit everything in.

Thanks for reading.

A 10K – and me feet feels stronger than ever (824K to go):

DO you know those days where you have a whole host of stuff planned and running definitely would not fit your schedule, but when you are on your way home and the weather is just perfect, you discard everything and just go for a run?

Longwinded, but today was such a day for me ย ๐Ÿ™‚

No matter how much I need to clean the apartment, pack my travel duffel, write up some work stuff and a whole hsot of other things, then I simply could not resist sneaking into my seeyas and hit the road.

I started out in a fast but not too fast pace and in spite of having done a 14K just two days before, my feet, ankles and legs felt strong. So I decided to stick with the pace and see where it went.

My back was sore from the morning gym session, thus I had to monitor my running style a little more closely today, but it really was my only issue. I started to feel a slight tensioning in my middlefoot, but a slight adjustment to my upper body position, brought me back to a correct running style and the rest of the run was just one long perfect run.

Running data from the run said average pace 4;56 and a cadence of 196 SPM, so in the right range for me.

Heart rate was a little above average, but hardly problematic and my running style really seemed to come together today, best part though was my feet. They felt strong throughout the run and even after comming home they felt good and not really sore or tired as they did earlier.

It seems my approach to it with going barefoot style full time, and simply not wear a normal shoes at all, really has paid off so far and I am one happy runner right now ๐Ÿ™‚

14K and still feeling great (834K to go):

Yesterday was not really that perfect a day when it started out.

Had to get up early on the sunday and go to work. the culmination of 2 years of hard work and my biggest professional project ย has been rolling out this weekend.

Thus the opportunity to sneak into my seeyas and head out for a run with a friend seemed perfectly timed and I really needed to the mental boost and peace of mind running brings me.

The first kilometre was a pleasant warm up to meet my friend Tina. much to my surprise she was holding a pair of brand new VFF in her hand, but luckily wearing her normal runners.

from here followed 11 wonderful kilometres of hills, paved roads, slushy snow patches, ice, some rock, water puddles and some more paved roads. A perfect relaxed and very pleasant mix of surfaces. Some may claim that running this kind of mixed terrain in seeyas is a little stupid, but I really like them for all round running, mostly because they are such a perfect, soft and quickdrying ย almost invisible shoe.

TIna and I had a good chat about life in general and what is going on in our lives while running and I was really impressed by her uphill stamina too. It just felt good not to run alone for a change.

back at her place she quickly slipped into her sprints and we did 1K of running and technical training, it was fun to be around for her first minimalist run and hear her encountering the multiple surfaces we managed to pack in. She got to taste both gravel, paved roads, soft sea weed, pebbled trails and very wet feet. I felt quite privileged to be around for this first experience and glad that it was a good one. arriving back at her place I said a quick goodbye before sprinting the last kilometre home at full speed.

Getting to terms with the facts from the run afterwards was very rewarding. I had managed to keep my running style sharp, even with another runner around, cadence was a bit of a mixed bag and it took a continuous focus on it to stay in my normal 195-200 SPM cadence. when not paying attention it dropped to 180-185 SPM which is still in the OK range for me, albeit a little slow if I were to run totally barefoot.

Pace was relaxed and comfortable, but also necessary as we had to catch up along the way. running style was not perfect, but it is getting more solid for every run. I was particularly pleased to see that I had the ability to keep a decent running style and that talking did not take mental energy away from it.

So all in all a very, very good run and my first 14K in these barefoot thingys, best part is that even though I do have the slightest hint of sore calf muscles, then I came out clean and ready for more ๐Ÿ™‚

/T

10 amazing kilometres, after a week in heavy boots (848K to go):

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There is a lot to be said about todays 10K and the events leading up to it.

Easter was spend wearing heavy duty snowboard boots way out in the Greenlandic Mountains, Heliboarding it is called.

Essentially it involves being carried by helicopter to a peak and then snowboarding down steep offpiste terrain ๐Ÿ™‚

It has been amazing to be back out there and to be able to enjoy the challenging snowboarding. Snowboarding is another passion of mine and being off piste and carried to peaks and runs otherwise inaccessible is an experience I will carry with me forever. I mean, how often do you find yourself strapping into your board (or skies) with mountains, glaciers and inland ice in one direction and the deep fiords and ocean in the other.

I have not been running while there though. the decision to conserve every bit of energy to recover between runs and during the evenings came easy. My feet and legs were in no shape to do anything but rest after the long days on the board, but to kick off the boots and walk around barefooted in the evening was amazing, just as it became clear to me how much stronger my feet and lower legs have become from the barefoot running style.

Arriving back in Nuuk today was both a bit of a downer, but also a welcome chance to start recovering and slowly comprehend the sensory overload from the trip. first thing I did though was to sneak my bare feet into my seeyas and ย go for a nice run in the late afternoon sun.

And I felt fast right from the get go. I felt the urge to just run fast and see what my barefoot skills could handle, the seeyas are amazing for that, just enough sole to make pebbles and others smallish stuff a non issue.

At between 7 and 8K I paid the price though and had to slow down to keep my technique nice and clean, but overall I was easily back under my 5 minute average and with a natural cadence of 198 SPM.

So overall a very very good run and a reminder of how amazing the feel of running nearly barefoot is ๐Ÿ™‚

Off trail 10K and first peak (858K to go):

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Spring has caught Nuuk and most of the Greenlandic west coast a few month early and the snowboarder in me hates it, then the barefoot runner in me loves it ๐Ÿ™‚

Today was another perfect day from the morning, a tough core and shoulder workout, followed by work and the strapping into my VFF Spyridons for the first real off trail test on rock in stead of snow.

The course for the roun would be a mix of roughly 5K mountain, with plenty of bare rock, pebbled sections, sections with jagged outcroppings of rock and plenty of snow patches in between and be rather steep to boot.

My run started uphill from the first step and the next 2,5 steep uphill kilometres threatened to kill me and my feet from quite early on. On road and the terrain I have been running so far, my feet has been taking the transition to a totally soft shoe with no padding very well. but running steep rock inclines in a soft five finger shoe is putting quite a lot of strain on both mid foot muscles, calves and the achilles tendon. this part of the run definitely had several sections of technical running that my barefoot running skills are not quite up for yet. But that said I loved every step of it ๐Ÿ™‚

Did the obligatory stop at the peak, calming myself, taking in the view and letting my feet dry. Felt amazing to sit barefooted up there and enjoy the view.

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From the peak I was looking forward to the perhaps funniest part of the run, the downhill run on what was left of the alpine slopes, still covered in thick slushy snow.

That part of my run was pure fun, took a lot of focus, balance and coordination to stay upright at some of the steeper sections, but staying true to good running/sliding style made for a fast and fun section ๐Ÿ™‚

Met several Nordic skiers on this section on the route, even friends, all preparing for either the Greenlandic Nationals or the Arctic Circle Race.

Got a few weird looks and exchanged a few friendly words, they were all going uphill after all and on Nordic skies, I am not sure I would have survived that.

From her it was a 5K paved section home.

Mostly it was a 5K ย long survival run, my feet were hammered from the off trail part and i had very little energy to do anything than focus on running, cadence ย and other things seemed about right, but I could tell on the way home that this run would fall in the TMTS category and now as i am typing this I am confident that I will pay for this over in the coming days.

That said I still think it was worth it and I would be tempted to do ย it again ๐Ÿ™‚

The spyridons we again an excellent off trail choice. excellent grip on all surfaces and I can now vouch for this mesh feature that take the brunt of the impact from rock cropping and stones/pebbles, It works a treat.

It survived the road section too and very well for a trail shoes, but coming form no shoes or a seeya it is a bit of dull experience on roads.

A parting picture for you all showing a little more of the mixed terrain.

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A perfect spring 10K (868K to go):

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You Know it has been a perfect run when your hands are as dirty as your feet and you are caked into , snow, dirt and mud from toe to hips ๐Ÿ™‚

But lets, back up a bit… Mother Nature has for some reason decided to bring spring to Greenland a good month earlier than normal.

Since friday we have had temperatures well above 0C and all my wonderful snow has either rained or melted away. Nuuk now look like it would normally do in May and we are only halfway through March. While that is just not OK from a snowboarding point of view. It did mean that I from a running point of view would be able to sneak back into the pair of running shoes that I enjoy running almost as much as totally barefooted. my VFF seeya ๐Ÿ™‚

The sun was out from early morning, but my legs were still quite sore and stiff from yesterdays leg focused gym session. But then again +100 weighted deep squats ( as in butt to heel deep squats), 100 leg curls onย  coreball, the usual 100 weighted calf raises and of course my favourite one legged achilles squats (in lack of a better description).

None the less, the sun and warm weather was too much for me, strapped in warmed up a bit and headed out the door and into the warm spring air.

much to my surprise I seemed to hit both running style and pace with ease, everything just seemed to click and I had to remind myself to keep my pace down and focus on running style. I floated through the first five kilometres, with excellent ground feedback and plenty of underfoot sensory impact from the massive amount of pebbles and gravel exposed by the snow melting away, but my feet seemed to almost mould around it (helped my the very thin rubber soles admittedly, nut still…)

On my home bound leg of the run I decided to take advantage of all the rock being exposed and drifted off onto the rocks, slushy snow and dirt quite a bit, amazing to run real rock without the snow and get a taste for what summer has in store for us ๐Ÿ™‚

Stats after the run was a 5:00 pace and a 200 SPM cadence. Heart rate was too high though, but I really could not help it, I was enjoying the run way too much ๐Ÿ™‚

I am still only in the early beginnings of my full time barefoot running, but style, feel and strength are slowly coming together and the difference from what people like to call a transitional shoe, which I have been running for a good year before ย thisย  and a truly minimalist shoe really is night and day. I ma however confident that this is the right choice for me ๐Ÿ™‚